Luka Modric stood out but Karim Benzema was underwhelming as Real Madrid were held to a 1-1 draw by Elche on Wednesday.
Real Madrid were hot off the gates, dominating the early exchanges at Estadio Manuel Martinez Valero. Los Blancos nearly went ahead in the 13th minute when Marcelo rattled the crossbar with a thunderous volley. However, the visitors did have their lead shortly after.
Luka Modric was in the right place at the right time to head in the rebound after the woodwork had been smashed again in the 20th minute, this time by Marco Asensio. Real Madrid continued to push forward in search of a second goal, but were also being exploited at the back by Elche, who would find a way back in the game early in the second half.
Just a few minutes post the interval, the hosts won a penalty when Antonio Barragan was bundled down by Dani Carvajal. Fidel stepped up to take the spot-kick and made no error in getting the ball past the outstretched hands of Thibaut Courtois. Both sides had fine chances to break the deadlock again, but the points were shared. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Zinedine Zidane’s men.
Thibaut Courtois: 7/10
Another night, another evening when an exasperated Courtois conceded a goal from a penalty. This time, he guessed the right way, but the spot-kick from Fidel was perfectly placed. Did play his part in earning the draw, though, making a top-notch save from the last kick of the game to earn Real Madrid a point.
Dani Carvajal: 5/10
A game to forget for Carvajal, who first conceded the penalty that Elche equalised from before giving away the late free-kick that was saved by Courtois, who saved the Spaniard’s blushes as well. Did not have a great time dealing with the threat of Fidel all night and was sloppy in possession too at times. Did create one chance, but needed to do better in the final third.
Raphael Varane: 7/10
After a nervy game against Granada, this was a much-improved showing by Varane. While the Frenchman was still not completely in his elements, he did make a few important tackles and won 5 duels. All this while maintaining a brilliant pass completion rate of 96 percent and this was a solid effort by Varane.
Sergio Ramos: 7/10
Much like his partner at the heart of the Real Madrid defence, Ramos did well to clean up at the back while also covering up for the deficiencies of Marcelo. In particular, the Real Madrid captain was imposing in the air, winning each of the aerial duels he contested (3). Did not create as big an impact going forward as he usually does.
A surprise selection ahead of Ferland Mendy, Marcelo started the game brightly and came close to scoring from a volleyed effort. However, the Brazilian’s forays down the left flank meant he left his fellow defenders exposed on the counter. Fortunately for him, Ramos was at hand to cover the spaces left vacated, with even Toni Kroos helping out.
Luka Modric: 8/10
Luka Modric has now been involved in three goals in his last three La Liga games.
◎ 1 assist
◉ 2 goals
Goals in back-to-back games for the Croatian. pic.twitter.com/eM3rlzF7vo
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) December 30, 2020
Back into the starting lineup after missing the last game, Modric showed just why he continues to be a pivotal figure for Real Madrid. Pulling the strings effortlessly, the Croat helped assert the visitors’ dominance in the first half, adding an element of fluidity in the final third. The cherry on top was his goal, showing tremendous awareness to head in the opener.
A solid effort by Casemiro, who did well to curb the flow of any rare Elche move attempted through the middle. The Brazilian international won 5 duels while completing a couple of interceptions, all while maintaining a healthy passing rate of 93 percent, which ensured that Real Madrid were on top of the proceedings for large portions of the game.
Toni Kroos: 7.5/10
Kroos did what Kroos usually does best, stringing play together effortlessly while putting in a shift off the ball. The German playmaker played the most key passes (3) on the night, all while keeping a brilliant passing rate of 96 percent. Ended the game with 3 tackles won as well, but could not turn it up when needed late on.
Lucas Vazquez: 7/10
Retaining his spot on the right-wing, Vazquez continued being a reliable outlet. Created an early chance and misplaced just three passes all game. As ever, he was not lacking in effort either, tirelessly working off the ball to help out Carvajal on his side, completing 1 tackle and interception each.
Karim Benzema: 5/10
— Madrid Zone (@theMadridZone) December 30, 2020
A rare off night for Benzema, who struggled to get into the game for stretched periods and managed just the one shot all game. Never found wanting for effort, but the scoring opportunities just did not arrive for him on the night, although he did create a chance.
Marco Asensio: 6/10
Back into the starting lineup, it was a game of hits and misses for Asensio. The Spaniard had a role to play in the opener, as it was his effort that smashed the woodwork before Modric scored from the rebound. Faded dramatically thereafter, though, struggling to find his way into the proceedings. Misplaced just one pass all game, but needed to do more.
Eden Hazard: N/A
On for Vazquez, Hazard finally made his long-awaited return. However, he could not manage to turn the tide in Real Madrid’s favour, even when presented with a chance late on.
Federico Valverde: N/A
Valverde replaced Kroos, but could not influence the proceedings much.
Vinicius Jr.: N/A
A late introduction, Vinicius Jr. barely had time to make an impact.